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So many business networking groups, so little time!

May 13, 2010

There are just so many networking opportunities out there, it’s hard to know where to start and exactly where you and your business will fit in. Businesses face the choice of dedicating time and resources to traditional networking, or newer technology based solutions, or both! The answer to this question will vary from business to business, based on the business itself and industry characteristics, the comfort level and skill set of the person in charge of networking and the goals of the business.With so many variables and choices, I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of questions to ask yourself when you’re considering joining a business networking group.

Do you always like to play by the rules?

Some people thrive in a structured environment. Others find lots of rules to be a drag. Depending on the group you decide to join, make sure that you understand the rules. Some networking organisations like BNI are very strict and you can find yourself ousted if you don’t play by the rules!  

How much time do you have?

Typical networking groups meet weekly at a specific time and location. Sometime businesses join, only to realise that the time of the meetings is not convenient for their schedule and work load. Oh and make sure your business can do without you while you’re away and your team knows where you are! Other newer networking groups like 4Networking, offer a new model of flexibility of location, but the time remains the same and so this may suit you better.  

How many referrals do you expect to receive, and how many do you think you can generate?

The type of business networking group you join will influence the type of referral you receive. You should go with an open mind on this one and be in it for the long haul. Make sure you have measures in place to record any successes and remember, if you help others, they will help you in return - pretty old fashioned, but that’s the way it works .

Do you have a strategy?

Most people will join a networking group to expand their client base and gain new referral partners. If you join a business networking group where you don’t already know the existing members, you have to allow some time for the membership to get to know you and trust that you are honest and capable before you can expect to receive any referrals.  

All things considered, yes I like The Business North West Network, Chamber B2B events and a few others, but I am really loving 4Networking, as it has a very active on line membership and forum as well as breakfast events at varying locations; plus all bookings & receipts are managed on line. A passport membership allows me to travel to a variety of meetings across the North West and there is a bit of a structure, but there’s no stuffiness. Have met some great contacts & have generated a lot of new interest in Extravision, as many members are SME's who want to try email marketing, or marketing consultants/website designers interested in working with a Manchester based email service provider with a face, rather than using an on line platform, with poor support.

OK,yes I admit to having even started my own 4Networking North West group on LinkedIn & so I guess I’ve found the group that works for me!

Comments welcome on what works for you......

Posted by Jenni Malley

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